Last night, the Department of Health issued a warning that diners who ate at the popular West Village restaurant Alta in the last two weeks may have contracted Hepatitis A from an infected food handler. One of the restaurant's pastry chefs recently returned from a trip to Mexico and discovered that she was ill with the disease earlier this week. The DOH was notified of the incident on Thursday and immediately began an investigation. In a statement issued last night, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley warns that "any patron who ate dessert at Alta from March 23 to April 2 is considered at risk and is recommended to receive a preventive vaccine." Alta was given the green light to reopen for dinner last night minus desserts, although desserts will be back on the menu this evening.
Owner Christopher Chesnutt said in a statement that that he and his team are "working closely with the Health Department to ensure the safety of our customers. This is an isolated incident and the infected employee is no longer on premises." The restaurant is proactively vaccinating all of its employees and is reaching out to the roughly 3,000 people who ate at Alta over the past few weeks, urging them to get precautionary vaccinations as well. The DOH will be offering free Hepatitis A vaccinations at the Chelsea Health Center today and tomorrow from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., and on Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Anyone needing more information should call 311.
UPDATE: Here's a statement from the management at Alta:
Here's the statement from Alta:
Alta restaurant would like our customers to know that the restaurant has been certified by the NYC Department of Health as being free of any health risks. It is completely safe to eat at Alta.
We regard the health and safety of our customers and employees with the utmost seriousness. The standards of cleanliness in food preparation that have always been maintained at Alta are in full compliance with the Department of Health regulations. Alta holds a NYC DOH food sanitation grade of A.
The incident of Hepatitis A was isolated to one part time employee in the pastry department, which is physically isolated from the other food preparation area in the restaurant. During the period specified in the DOH advisory, March 23rd to April 2nd, the employee worked 3 of those days. As soon as we became aware of the incident all food items that could have possibly been in contact with the employee were immediately discarded. Beyond the individual infection, the DOH has not determined any evidence of any contamination whatsoever.
We do advise in accordance with the DOH advisory that any patron who had dessert on the days in question should get a free vaccination solely as a precautionary measure. Free vaccinations are available after today at any of the city's immunization clinics until April 16th (list to follow) and today, April 8th from 9am to 5pm at the Chelsea Health Center located at:
303 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001.
Alta restaurant apologizes to our customers for the inconvenience in getting the recommended vaccinations and for the fear and concern the Health Department advisory has caused but we want to reiterate that there have been no further cases. The Health Department has set up a direct line to answer our customers' questions. They can be reached at 347-396-2600.
Fort Greene Health Center
295 Flatbush Ave. Extension - 5th floor, Brooklyn, NY, 11201
(corner of Willoughby St. & Flatbush Ave. Ext., near the Fulton Mall and Long Island University)
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
8:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Directions: A, C, & F to Jay St., or 2,3,4 & 5 to Nevins St. or R, Q, & B to DeKalb Ave.
Tremont Health Center
1826 Arthur Ave. - 1st floor, Bronx, NY, 10457
(between Cross Bronx Expressway & Tremont Ave.)
Monday, Tuesday and Thursday
8:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Directions: #4 to Burnside Avenue, #2 or #5 to West Farms Square, # 6 to Westchester Square. D to Tremont Avenue. Take #40 or #42 bus toward Arthur Avenue. (East from the #4 and D and West from the #5 and #6)
Corona Health Center
34-33 Junction Boulevard - 3rd floor, Queens, NY, 11372
(between 34th Ave. & 34th Road)
Wednesday and Friday
8:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Directions: #7 train to Junction Boulevard
Walk North towards Northern Boulevard or take the # 72 bus.